This script was transcribed by Kristine Howard from an MP3 of the show in March 2002. In some places either the audio mix or the actor’s enunciation made it difficult to hear what was being said. I have tried to copy down the dialogue as closely as possible, but it’s not 100% accurate. I have also included sound effects and actions where appropriate. As some characters were not named, I have just referred to them in general terms. Please do not reproduce this transcript on your site without my permission.
Please note: This is NOT an exact copy of Dahl’s short story. A lot of dialogue has been added and some has been changed. If you need to read “Poison” for your homework and you use this version, your teacher will know it and you’re going to look very silly.
William Conrad: Tired of the everyday routine? Ever dream of a life of romantic adventure? Want to get away from it all?
Show Announcer: We offer you… ESCAPE! (music sting) Escape designed to free you from the four walls of today for a half hour of high adventure. (cymbal crash) ESCAPE, brought to you by your Richfield gasoline dealer and the Richfield Oil Corporation of New York, marketers of Richfield gasolines with Xylene, Rich Lube All-Weather Motor Oil and other famous petroleum products. Look for the Richfield eagle on the cream and blue pumps.
William Conrad: Tonight we escape to India and the story of a man trapped in his bed by a krait, the most deadly poisonous snake in the world. As Roald Dahl tells it in his terrifying story, “Poison”.
Woody: Listen, it’s an awful good story but to get the points you gotta understand about two things: what kind of a guy Harry Pope was, and what kind of a snake a krait is. First, the krait. You spell it K-R-A-I-T. They’re in India, the kraits are. Little snakes, sometimes not more than three or four inches long. You have to look real careful if you’re gonna see one at all. Really almost like a worm, except that it’s the most poisonous snake in the world. It can bite faster than a bumblebee and when it does you go off like a firecracker, swell up like a hot water bottle, and then fly the angels. Krait, tiny little snake.
Now about Harry, Harry Pope. Funny guy. He had it in for anybody who wasn’t American, who didn’t speak his language. He called ’em “foreigners”, and he called ’em that Army word, “gook”. Didn’t matter if they were French, Italian, or Japanese. “Gook… foreigner,” he’d say. Was kinda buggy on the subject. Funny guy.
Well, Harry and me, we got sent out to Bombay on this construction job and that’s where the trouble started. You see, except for the two of us, the crew was made up of local boys, Hindus and Moslems, forty of ’em. Harry was like a cat in a roomful of dogs. Had his back up every minute. After a month of so it began to wear him out. Got so his appetite wasn’t right, he was smoking three and four packs a day and he wasn’t getting his sleep. I used to try to straighten him out, used to tell him he was wrong…
Harry: Naw, Woody, there’s no use talkin’–
Woody: Listen, Harry, they’re all good boys. Why don’t you take it easy?
Harry: Woody, you and I are good friends but there are a lot of things you just don’t understand.
Woody: You oughtta take it easy, Harry. They’re all human beings, just like you and me.
Harry: They’re gooks, Woody. Foreigners. Lookit. Think about it this way. How’d you like your sister to marry one of ’em?
Woody: I haven’t got a sister, and anyway, you’ve asked me that before.
Harry: There, you see? You won’t even make the effort to understand.
Woody: Well, that’s how it was with Harry, and you know about the krait. Now about what happened. It was June of last year. It was hot and sticky, even though the sun was down. I was putting on a clean shirt to go out.
(sounds of Woody getting dressed and whistling)
Harry: Oh, man, I’m really beat tonight.
- What’s with you, Woody? What’s the clean shirt for?
Woody: Goin’ out.
Harry: Whaddaya got, a date?
Woody: No, I, uh, thought I’d stop off at Doctor Ganderbai’s. He promised he’d show me the photos he made down in the leper colony.
Woody: Yeah. These photos are supposed to be pretty interesting stuff. How ’bout it Harry, would ya like to come along?
Harry: Ganderbai? He’s a Hindu. A gook. Foreigner. I don’t wanna spend no evening with a gook. Shoot, not old Harry…
Woody: So I went off to the doctor’s and Harry went to bed with a detective story. Had a very interesting evening. Later, old Harry was plenty sorry that he stayed home.
Woody: I didn’t leave the doctor’s until around midnight, and when I drove back through the sleeping city it was very quiet and dark. I thought about the pictures of the lepers I’d seen. I remember thinking, “I hope Harry’s awake ’cause I’d like to tell him about those pictures.”(music) And when I got home I was glad to see the light in his room was still burning…
Woody: Harry, you up?
Woody: I didn’t get an answer, probably fell asleep reading.
Woody: (walking into Harry’s room) Harry? You awake, Harry?
Harry: (whispering) Shhh. Woody.
Woody: Harry, boy! What’s the matter, kid?
Woody: Shhh. Stop Woody. Take off your shoes.